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Wi-Fi option comes to Africa via satellite

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Konnect Africa, the Eutelsat-owned satellite broadband service provider, has unveiled SmartWIFI, a new hotspot service, as part of its ongoing commitment to bring digital opportunities to Africans.

This new service leverages Konnect Africa’s powerful, reliable satellite broadband network to enable sales outlets (retailers, hospitalities, gas stations, etc.) as well as healthcare centres or schools to become a connectivity point and digital gateway to opportunity for the surrounding population. Users will be able to access the internet from a distance of several hundred metres around the hotspot. Access can be extended to several kilometres through off-the-shelf Wi-Fi repeaters.

Users can access the SmartWIFI service through vouchers or mobile payment schemes. In addition, SmartWIFI comes with a unique local data storage system, enabling users in remote areas to access smart digital content free of data charges, including online courses and education programmes, sports and entertainment. Mobile and computer applications will also be available to help support daily business activities.

Konnect Africa CEO, Laurent Grimaldi commented from AfricaCom: “This new Wi-Fi hotspot solution is designed specifically to address the needs of the majority of the African population that lives in rural areas, where there is a need to reduce the digital divide. In leveraging the ubiquity of our satellite network and locally operated hotspots we will foster more productive uses of digital technology to make everyday tasks easier for individuals and allow businesses in more remote areas to expand their footprint – let’s just think of weather apps to assist farmers, mobile phones to display bus timetables, or better information on market days that can help small producers enlarge their catchment area”, he added.

SmartWIFI will be available in all countries covered by Konnect Africa’s satellite broadband service. The new hotspot service will be deployed in partnership with local Internet service providers and telecom operators in strategic areas across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Details on the new hotspot solution were presented by Konnect Africa during AfricaCom’17 in Cape Town.

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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